When shopping for beauty products online, what are a few patterns you notice? For one, you likely search all ends of the internet for honest product reviews. You probably also look up a YouTube video of someone trying that product.
This is all part of online consumer experiences; we find ways to trust the products we’re interested in and work up the confidence to purchase them.
One industry that has a unique set of pain points when selling online is cosmetics and skincare. Why? When shopping online customers can’t rub the products on their hands to test the color and feel, and they can’t talk directly to a sales associate to ask questions. These have been important components to beauty buyers in brick and mortar stores.
All hope is not lost. Instead, this means beauty brands have an opportunity to pivot.
Just like there are unique retail store experiences, there are also opportunities to make the online buying experience better. I asked a few ecommerce experts how beauty brands can drive revenue online. I’ll share those insights and more in this article.
Let’s start by looking at a bit of history.
How has the beauty industry changed over the years?
According to Avenue Five Institute, Historians can trace our use of beauty products and cosmetics back to 4,000 BC.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, more women chose a career path in beauty. This was significant for African-American women who started creating products designed for a variety of hair types and textures, including Madame CJ Walker.
By the time of the “roaring twenties,” beauty had taken off. Elizabeth Arden opened her first well-known salon in New York, Max Factor invented a foundation that would be the first for film stars to use and Greta Garbo inspired a new look for eyebrows that led to the creation of pencils and mascara.
Source: Cosmetics and Skin
In the 1970s, the popular look was more natural. In the 1980s, everything was bigger, more colorful and more complicated. By the time the 1990s came around, the “look” was again inspired by more natural beauty… until the end of the decade when dark nails, lips and eyes were popular.
A lot of the 2010s were focused on anti-aging formulas, intensive serums and correction creams. As we move into the 2020s, we still see people sculpting and pampering themselves at local spas. Lip injections, botox, microblading and eyelash extensions are now common to the everyday person.
Throughout the past ten years there have been many interesting trends, especially as we’ve shifted toward online shopping.
Aside from the popular “looks,” the way consumers interact with beauty brands online has changed. Next, we’ll look at some key stats and trends for how you, as a merchant, can drive growth by following these trends.
Beauty industry statistics
Competition in the industry has become fierce. More brands are being created, specifically from well-known celebrities like Jennifer Lopez’s JLO Beauty, Lauren Conrad’s beauty brand and Alicia Keys’ upcoming Soulcare beauty brand.
Source: JLO Beauty
It’s no surprise more beauty brands are being created, especially with the industry’s incredible growth. In fact, Common Thread Collective says it’s predicted to exceed $716 billion by 2025. Here are a few other noteworthy statistics:
- 82% of women believe social media drives trends in the beauty industry.
- Makeup is the beauty industry’s most profitable branch, with over $8 billion in makeup sales.
- 63% of consumers have more trust in brands that have an Instagram account.
- 64% of beauty buyers who value quality are more likely to shop directly at a beauty brand's site.
- 29% of millennials make purchasing decisions based on media or online reviews.
Knowing this, how will you position your products to beat your competitors? That’s where I’m here to help.
Next, I’ll share tips from several ecommerce experts to show you how beauty brands can make more sales online.
Source: Octane AI Beauty Guide
Beauty industry trends: what brands should do to drive revenue
There are several ways to create an interesting online shopping experience. You can offer a loyalty program or build a consultative ecommerce quiz, but here are the most important 14 trends and strategies every beauty brand should be preparing for in 2021.
1. Keep a sharp eye on watching the beauty industry trends
Consumer trends can change quickly—like, in-just-one-day quick. Brands that do a good job of staying relevant do it well because of their ability to detect new trends and adapt to them quickly.
To do a better job of watching consumer trends, subscribe and read articles from leading industry media outlets who stay up-to-date with beauty trends.
Source: Retail Dive
Also, pay attention to search traffic and queries. If customers are searching for something related to your industry, it’s an opportunity for your brand to act first and respond. Write content and optimize it for those keywords.
2. Collect and leverage more user-generated content and reviews
According to Nosto’s beauty and skincare 2021 report, 74% of consumers are likely to purchase from a store or brand that includes customer reviews throughout their website. And, when browsing your site and social media pages, 51% of consumers want to see images that are not photo-shopped.
Two ways to tackle these wants are to leverage your user-generated content (UGC) and ask for product reviews. Here are a few ideas to collect both:
- Send a post-purchase email to ask customers to share their opinion about the product they purchased.
- Reward customers for sharing a review with loyalty points or a discount.
- Host an Instagram contest where customers take pictures of your products and tag your brand. This will show up in your profile’s tagged section.
Once you have UGC and reviews, you can share those on product pages, in blog and video content, in email campaigns, in paid social ads or via Facebook Messenger sponsored messages.
3. Focus on customer connection and community
With the majority of people now doing their shopping online, it’s important to build deep customer connections. Turn customers into brand advocates with community-centric messaging and experiences.
Fun fact: my first Shopify store was a makeup brush brand.— Paige Harris (@pa1ge) December 9, 2020
My tip is to really focus on connection & community. Makeup/beauty loves are passionate and community driven (i.e. Facebook groups, Reddit, youtube). Brands should look into starting their own if they haven’t already.
Makeup consumers are passionate about the brands they use to create their looks. Skincare consumers don’t often change brands once they find one that works well for their skin type. With loyal customers already in merchant’s hands, the beauty industry has a prime opportunity to build communities to drive retention and loyalty.
Source: Glow Recipe
Glow recipe has done a good job of building their community. For one, they have a rewards program, which gives members exclusive access to deals and promotions. They also have a variety of branded merch, product bundles and kits, an active blog with educational content and a large Instagram following where they feature mostly photos and videos from “real people.”
4. Virtual appointments and consultations are important to build trust
Without consumers being able to go into brick and mortar locations to browse products and ask a store clerk questions, how do you help customers feel confident to purchase your products? This is where virtual appointments and consultations are helpful.
On site quizzes are huge as well (cc @MattPRD)— Kristen LaFrance (@kdlafrance) December 9, 2020
As Kristen mentions in the Resilient Retail podcast, merchants can use products like HERO to help customers shop through virtual video appointments, or they can build on-site quizzes to guide customers to a personalized product match. And, the best part is that brands can also collect buyer profile data with their quiz questions.
Source: Doe Lashes
Doe Lashes’ “Find your Lash” quiz finds out a customer’s age, their eye shape, how often a customer uses lashes, their experience level with lashes and collects an email for the user to get their quiz results.
With their quiz, Doe Lashes increased email opt-ins by 3X, and discovered an entirely new segment of buyers they didn’t realize was visiting their site: customers that had no experience with false lashes. They were then able to create educational material to nurture those customers to feel confident to purchase and use false lashes.
Are you ready to learn how you can harness the power of an ecommerce quiz for your beauty brand? Check out our free 60-page guide about driving revenue with simple personalization for beauty brands!
5. Share more visual content in more marketing channels
Finding where your customers spend most of their time is no easy task. With all the different marketing channels out there (Facebook, Instagram, email, etc), it’s important for brands to embrace different ones to find where they drive the most traffic. One important channel for merchants is TikTok.
If you’re not on Tik Tok yet, it’s far too late.— Business Podcasts Won't be The Same After Dec 23rd (@WalkerLucas) December 9, 2020
Consumers are looking for how content. How to get good lighting. How to use tools correctly etc.
Creating something that gets shared with “I was today years old when” is printing money.
With videos maxed out at just 60 seconds, it’s clear that consumers want quick content to digest. As Deb Mecca suggests, creating 15-second videos of customers using your products for Facebook and Instagram ads are also performing well, and will likely continue to in the new year.
Beauty brands that showcase products with someone applying them in videos under 15 seconds on Facebook/IG have been a true winner this season and will continue into 2021. ie: https://t.co/Zacs9TqIqN— Deb (@DebMecca) December 9, 2020
6. Diversify your products and messaging
For a long time, diversity in the beauty industry was non-existent. But, now 40% of adults have shown an interest in gender-neutral cosmetics products. And more brands are choosing diverse representations in their influencer marketing.
The time for men’s cosmetics is here @Stryx_Official— Jon Shanahan 🦉 (@JonShanny) December 10, 2020
For example, James Charles is widely known as a makeup guru and has had influencer opportunities with well-known beauty brands, including Morphe and Cover Girl.
Source: James Charles
Around the time of James Charles’ uprising, more discussions started happening about men’s role in beauty. Eventually, new brands were created for the sole purpose of catering to men’s self-care and beauty needs, including hims and Beardbrand.
Beardbrand sells beard washes and stylers. Over the past ten years, the brand has blown up in popularity, opening retail locations and expanding their products to include deodorants, colognes and more.
Aside from a growing number of male consumers, beauty lovers also want to see more diversity and inclusivity. Traditional beauty focused on a single image. Now, many brands realize this isn’t inclusive to the various skin colors and types.
Source: UOMA Beauty
Beauty brands are now expanding their products to be suitable for a variety of ethnicities. Consumers see this with brands like UOMA, who even have a shade finder quiz on their website that showcases a large variety of skin types and tones.
7. Personalize, personalize, personalize!
Nosto recently discovered 63% of beauty consumers are loyal to brands that remember their shopping preferences and customize the online experience accordingly.
With many customers making the switch to purchasing online for the first time, it’s important for merchants to show your brand offers the right solutions for their unique needs and pain points.
Once you collect customer data with an ecommerce quiz or virtual consultation, segment your buyers into likeminded groups.
For each segment, build personalized email, Messenger, SMS and ad campaigns to help educate and nurture them. Tailor your website experiences with recommended upsells, targeted pop-ups and personalized offers to make shopping at your store feel exclusive.
Related Read: The Complete Guide to Personalizing the Customer Journey
8. Have a clear mission, and follow it
One mistake many beauty brands make is “trying to be big” without a clear mission or message. While you can never go wrong with a great product, an important part of selling that product is its story.
Tons of great stuff here already! #4 is my favorite, as I see a lot of niche/indie brands “trying” to be big. There’s no need.— Jake the Ad Nerd 🤓 (@jaketheadnerd) December 9, 2020
Consumers LOVE to buy into a mission and purpose driven brand, especially if the products a hit.
Add the sub model, & FB Ad funnels become a dream!
More brands are creating mission statements to follow—some give a percentage of sales to a relevant organization (like FIG + YARROW) while others work toward changing the messaging in the beauty industry to be more positive and inclusive (for example, Fenty Beauty).
Source: Fenty Beauty
9. Offer a membership model for exclusive content
According to ReCharge, subscribers spend 20% more than non-subscribers. As Chase from ReCharge shares below, there are a variety of ways you can provide value to customers through a membership program.
Beauty is primed for a membership model! $10 monthly to be a member, credit subscriber accounts for that same $10, gate new products or flash sales to members only, discount the whole store, free shipping and returns, trial products... That plus SO many options for engagement.— Chase Alderton (@ChaseAlderton) December 9, 2020
As one example, Scott Barnes is a beauty brand with a paid membership program called, “VIP Pro.” This yearly subscription gives members 30% off all products year-round, first access to new products, exclusive master classes and more.
Source: Scott Barnes
Not only is this a good way to build a community, but it gives customers a purpose to become brand advocates through an exclusive membership with tons of value.
10. Ensure your subscribers are guaranteed a product
For your members and subscribers, one way to keep them loyal is ensuring their favorite products are always available for them to purchase.
Tons of good stuff in here already, love this community.— Matt Lady (@mattladydigital) December 9, 2020
I'll chip in:
Guaranteed product for your monthly subscribers.
"Even if we're sold out online, we always have product set aside for you. Plus, save 10% on each order!"
For consumers that pay extra to become members and subscribers, it’s especially important to ensure they can purchase the products they need. Nothing says “bad experience” like not having product available to those paying your brand to be a part of your community.
As Paige points out, out-of-stock items can lead to customers finding a new brand to purchase from. Make sure you always have popular products available, and take it one step further by emailing customers when it’s time for them to restock!
This is smart for consumables like skincare. If I run out of face wash and my usual brand is sold out. I probably can’t wait until it’s restocked. I’d likely switch brands.— Paige Harris (@pa1ge) December 9, 2020
11. Start selling bundles to raise cart value
In all honesty, it’s a chore for most beauty consumers to have to go out and restock their favorite items. I know for myself, personally, I will purchase the largest bottle of my skincare items so it lasts as long as possible.
Another thing is that customers are already sort of doing this. Buying “backups” in the skincare/makeup community is a common thing. To avoid running out of a must-have product. Why not make it easier by selling in bundles/2-packs to raise cart value.— Paige Harris (@pa1ge) December 9, 2020
Offering bundles or two-packs for products without an expiry date is a smart way to increase cart value, and to make it easier for your consumers so they have a product that will last longer.
Less work for consumers = a positive experience to boost retention.
Glamnetic is a great example of a brand offering bundles. Right on their homepage, they feature a “value kits” section where consumers can buy a variety of lash packs.
12. Optimize the post-purchase experience
Once customers have made a purchase, what are your plans to continue engaging with them? As we mentioned before, beauty buyers tend to be passionate about the products they use (I know I am).
Ensure you’ve set up a variety of digital touchpoints to continue conversations with every buyer.
Post purchase experience, ways to continue to engage and delight your customers after they’ve purchased these could be digital touchpoints or localized events— _daniellekar (@_daniellekar) December 9, 2020
A few ways you can engage with customers post-purchase include:
- Setting up local events with exclusive invites.
- Thank customers for their purchase and ask for a review from an email, Facebook Messenger campaign or SMS.
- Invite customers to join your loyalty program.
- Remind them to restock a product they previously purchased.
- Upsell complementary products that work well with what a customer has already purchased.
13. Customers are interested in sustainable, ethical and healthy products
Your customers don’t deem products as quality just because of an expensive price tag. In fact, customers are more concerned about finding products made naturally, offer environmentally-friendly packaging and are accessible and cruelty-free.
1/ Sustainability— Ju Rhyu (@jurhyu) December 9, 2020
2/ Touch-free, sanitary items
3/ Skincare > makeup
As an added bonus, marking your products as touch-free and sanitary will make customers feel better about purchasing from you.
40% of Americans say natural products are healthier because they’re alcohol-free, skin-friendly and better for the environment. FIG + YARROW is a good example of a brand that embraces its natural selling point through its website aesthetic.
Source: FIG + YARROW
FIG + YARROW's website aesthetic is pictures featuring nature, flowers and simple colors to emphasize the naturalness of their products. They claim to be dedicated to using whole, pure, unadulterated and nutrient-dense ingredients.
14. Create a mobile app to engage with your most loyal customers
One of the best things an ecommerce brand can do is make sure their store is optimized for mobile. In fact, Mobile dominated BFCM 2019 on Shopify, accounting for 69% of sales. Aside from a good web experience that’s suitable for mobile devices, brands can also create an app to make the experience personalized.
Flattered to be a part of beauty DTC Twitter 💅. A mobile app to build and engage w loyal customers. Leverage mobile push notifications to remind consumers that their favourite moisturizer is back in stock, or about an exclusive promotion. Crazy open rates and conversions! 📈— Zack (@zaackelias) December 9, 2020
Beauty brands with an app have an opportunity to create a unique experience for their app users. From exclusive content and deals to the ability to send push notifications, businesses have an easier time capturing their buyer’s attention and keeping them engaged.
Plus, for your merchants, it’s easy to open an app that already remembers everything about their purchasing behavior and demographic information. Using this data, brands can create personalized content through the app experience.
Boost your revenue by following these trends for your beauty brand
Now that you’ve discovered these 14 new trends for beauty brands, which ones will you tackle first? Ensuring a positive customer experience will not only increase your revenue, but it will turn your buyers into loyal customers.
Remember, beauty products are extremely customized, which means you should make the shopping experience customized to each shopper too. Turn your products from “wants” to become “needs,” and show your customers the benefits they’ll get through personalized interactions.
By optimizing for both acquisition and retention, beauty brands will have a great inbound flow while also driving revenue with existing buyers. You’ve got the tools to get personal with your customers, so go drive that revenue!